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The Scarlet & Black

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Cross country concentrates on home meet

Once every year, the Men’s and Women’s cross country teams host the Les Duke invitational. It is the one meet that allows them to showcase their weeks of training and their talents at home. This year the Les Duke invitational will be held at the Grinnell Country Club this Saturday, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. for the men and roughly 10:45 a.m. for the women. The months leading up to this race have been incredibly strategical. 

  “Cross country is a season of 25 weeks of which 12 weeks are in the summer. The summer is about training to train and the fall is about training to race,” Head Coach Will Freeman wrote in an email to The S&B. 

Freeman wrote that cross country is a summer sport that continues in the fall. The team trusts each other to train on their own so they return as one cohesive unit. 

“There’s a lot of solidarity knowing that my teammates are out there running,” said Matthew McCarthy ’17. “Cross country starts at the beginning of June, and if you are not thinking about the season during the summer, then you will be late to the game.”

Now that the runners have returned to Grinnell, they have entrusted Freeman with their training. Despite having the team run successfully at the Central College Invitational this past Saturday, Sept. 3, Freeman admits that the meet was a workout for the student-athletes, given that back-to-back weekend races rarely have such optimal outcomes.

“We want to get our bodies used to running difficult workouts but not in an all-out pace,” McCarthy said.

Gray Krewson ’19 agreed that pacing and working up to longer runs is an important part of starting the season.

“It’s good practice for the race, and it’s good for the psychological aspect of running in an 8K race,” Krewson said.

This Saturday, however, the team will pull out all the stops. They run against Carleton College, Central College and Wartburg College, which are all top teams, according to Freeman. All these teams have also been on an upward trajectory in recent years, so Grinnell needs fast times to secure a top spot. Although it will be a tough meet, it will be more important to perform as a team than to win individually. 

“I’m just trying to go out and run with my friends, run with my teammates. It’s more important to run as a team and get a quality team score than to try and break your [personal record],” McCarthy said. 

The Women's cross country team prepares for the home meet.
The Women’s cross country team prepares for the home meet.

Much like their counterparts, the Women’s team has also been training all summer. They keep in contact through emails and running websites to ensure they are all getting their workouts in and keeping up the pace.

“You don’t want to be the teammate that doesn’t work all summer and isn’t helping push the team in the fall,” said Cary Carson ’19. “In this way, we see the importance of summer training and how it can very much be as important as the actual season itself.”

The Women’s cross country coach, Head Coach Evelyn Freeman, echoes the Men’s coach objective of this upcoming meet.

“Our goal is not to win the meet, however, if we do, that would be terrific,” Freeman said. “Our specific goal for the meet is to build off what we did for the race at Central.  Instead of sticking with our running partners at tempo/threshold pace for two miles, we plan to run this way for only one mile. After that, they are to get into race pace and try to maintain throughout the rest of the race distance, which is now 6K. This race will provide even more information about how to tweak the weekly training and what we need to work on for our race plan next time.”

Carson ’19 has been recovering from a summer injury but despite her less-than-optimal condition, she believes her teammates have the capacity to do well for the season.

“As a team, we are pretty prepared. We aren’t at our peak fitness, but that’s okay; since this is our first race, and we have the entire season ahead of us,” Carson said.

As per tradition, the Women’s cross country team will compete by running with a trail of glitter at Grinnell’s Country Club at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10.

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